In a scandal that could destroy the network, Andrea Tantaros’ lawsuit against Fox News and Roger Ailes is exposing a network-wide culture of sexual harassment that included the most watched host on all of cable news, Bill O’Reilly.
The New York Times reported:
“Fox News masquerades as a defender of traditional family values, but behind the scenes, it operates like a sex-fueled, Playboy Mansion-like cult, steeped in intimidation, indecency and misogyny,” Ms. Tantaros’s suit says.
During arbitration, Mr. Burstein said, Fox News offered to pay her a sum “in the seven figures” if she renounced claims against Mr. Ailes and others at the network, including the host Bill O’Reilly. According to the lawsuit, Ms. Tantaros said she had been subjected to unwelcome advances from Mr. O’Reilly, whom she had regarded as a friend and adviser.
All that family values stuff that Fox News spent hours spewing was nothing more than marketing to socially conservative viewers. The problem for Fox News is that Tantaros’ lawsuit is threatening to blow the lid off the network and all of their dark secrets in public. This isn’t the first time that Bill O’Reilly has been accused of sexual harassment. In 2004, O’Reilly settled a sexual harassment lawsuit filed against him by a Fox News producer.
The lawsuit accuses O’Reilly of trying to lure Tantaros to his Long Island home so that he could see her “wild side.” When she refused his advances, Tantaros was banned from appearing on O’Reilly’s show.
With reports running rampant that the backup plan for Donald Trump is if he loses the election is to team up with Roger Ailes and Breitbart to form a new conservative media empire, what we could be witnessing is the demise of Fox News. O’Reilly, Sean Hannity, and Greta Van Susteren all have clauses in their contracts that allow them to leave because Ailes is gone.
If Trump loses the election, the combination of the sexual harassment lawsuits and a new Ailes/Trump conservative media venture could trigger a mass exodus from Fox News.
Fox News is surrounded by internal and external threats, and the network is in more danger than most people in the media are willing to admit publicly.
The era of Fox News’ ratings dominance may be close to coming to an end.